North Northumberland

Although it may not be so true now, new authors often used to be advised to write about what they know. Dan Latus didn't really do that, but he did, and still does, like writing about the places he knows best.

Image of the River Coquet, Rothbury, Northumberland

So North Northumberland, where he lives, was the location for the first of his books, Never Look Back . It also features heavily in Run for Home,Living Dangerously and has a passing mention in one or two others.

View South from the Cheviots Hills, Northumberland

Some readers may even see in those novels a strong resemblance to the village of Rothbury and the valley of Coquetdale. Dan Latus would decline to add comment, simply insisting that the needs of the writer of fiction sometimes require departure from literal truth and accurate portraiture. His books contain stories, not essays in geography or local history.

Image of the River Coquet, Windyhaugh, Northumberland

Even so, there is no doubt that the stories draw heavily on the lonely, beautiful landscapes of the northern borderlands of Northumberland. They draw, too, on the lives of the people who occupy this very distinctive region.

Teesside and Cleveland

This is the other British region important to the Dan Latus novels. It's where the author grew up. It is also the region he studied at length in his academic days, intent on understanding better what happened during the heady days of industrialization in the mid-nineteenth century.

Those days are long gone now, of course, but their legacy remains in the iron and steel making towns of Teesside and the mining villages of East Cleveland. And all that is imposed on the still beautiful landscapes of the Cleveland Hills and North York Moors. Frank Doy, the private investigator who appears in many of the Dan Latus novels, lives and works there.

Central Europe

Dan Latus also makes several forays into Central Europe, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in particular. Much of the action in Run for Home and One Damn Thing After Another is based in Prague. It's an unfashionable region, perhaps, but it's also one of great mystery and beauty. Lost behind the Iron Curtain to Western eyes for several decades of the twentieth century, it's now once again part of mainstream European life, just as it was as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Prague, the historic capital of Bohemia, is perhaps the greatest of cities of that era, a place where a number of cultures, languages and national identities always met, and do still. Hard to believe now that Prime Minister Chamberlain famously once referred to it as the capital of a faraway country of which the British knew little. He wasn't referring to all British people, of course, or to all of Bohemia. No doubt he was deliberately excluding from his thoughts Marianski Lazny (formerly Marienbad), the spa town where Edward VII and so many other European monarchs were accustomed to spending their summers.

Prague : Praha

Prague. City of mystery and intrigue. I knew for a long time that it was where I wanted to locate a thriller. The place is a natural. All those dark, romantic buildings and shady lanes, all those unknowable interiors and subterranean passages that dissidents like the late Vaclav Havel have known so well.

In the cataclysmic events of the twentieth century Prague was different to the likes of Warsaw. Somehow it didn’t get destroyed, razed to the ground. Its historic central areas survived, covered in soot and pigeon droppings perhaps, but intact. World War II came and went without great impact on the ancient buildings of Prague, and so too did the decades of Soviet occupation and control.

Yet beneath the surface there was a kind of warfare that carried on incessantly. Prague was a natural stamping ground for all the intelligence agencies, and for so many émigrés from states that had suffered so much worse damage than Czechoslovakia. Their clandestine battles were fought hard. Probably they are still. Certainly Czech ministers have hinted as much in their annual reports concerning the activities of the security services.

I wanted to write a story about some of this, a story fashioned out of my frequent visits to the city over many years. I also wanted to fashion a link with Northumberland, where I live. Out of this came Run for Home. I hope my readers like it.

- Dan Latus

Algarve, Portugal

No Place to Hide is a story that begins in a small provincial town in the Algarve, another region with wonderful landscapes and rich in history.

Mostly, now, it's known for its beaches and holiday resorts, but it's also a good place to live for people with a past who don't want to be found.

Vancouver Island, Canada

Then there's Vancouver Island, off the Pacific coast of Canada, where Frank Doy ventures in Saving Harry. It's a wonderful place, an island almost the size of England that in European terms is big and complex enough to be a country in its own right, not just a small part of the enormous Canadian province of British Columbia. In Saving Harry, Frank Doy scarcely has time to draw breath, let alone explore the mysteries of the island. Perhaps he'll get the chance one day to make another, more leisurely visit.